The Nonhuman Island

 The Nonhuman Island (2016– )

The Nonhuman Island is a two-year performative research project that approaches nonhuman beings as potential performance makers, proposing to not only collaborate with them but also create the working structures and the performances on their terms. The project is one of the five current projects, i.e. “islands”, taking place at the Reality Research Center, an experimental performing arts collective situated in Helsinki.

The project delves into the following questions: What kinds of performances emerge, if the makers consist of living and nonliving beings other than human beings? How do these performances change our perception and experience of reality? What kinds of changes do our ways of thinking and working need to go through in order for us to collaborate artistically with nonhuman beings, and how do these changes challenge the conventions of performing arts? What are the ways of performing, spectating and participating nonhuman beings might suggest and enable? Can a performance happen without any human intervention or contribution? What happens to performance as an art form, if and when the human species becomes extinct?

The two-year working process is divided into three phases, each of which makes more space for nonhuman agency, gradually moving human beings from the center to the periphery. In the first phase, nonhuman beings are regarded as equal collaborators; in the second phase, the performances are hopefully initiated by something other than human; in the third phase, the performances may (or may not) emerge without any human interference.

The research process is shared in the form of monthly events consisting of small-scale performances, tasks and discussions. The events are open to anyone and anything; their purpose is to create an open and accessible forum for exploring and discussing the role of the nonhuman in contemporary performance.

During fall 2016, we investigate the ways in which nonhuman beings initiate performative situations and perform themselves and how human beings might take part in these performances. In September, we practiced recognizing and witnessing nonhuman performances and see what kind of changes of perception and thinking this might require from us. In October, we will delve into questions concerning the framing and temporality of nonhuman performances. In November, we will reflect on the position of human beings in performances that are made by something other than human.

During the Fall, we will organize a series of events that are open to human and nonhuman participants alike. The events will take place at various locations in Helsinki area during the following days:
Sunday September 11th 2016, 12-15
Sunday October 2nd 2016, 12-15
Sunday November 6th, 12-15

Past events
Nonhuman Island: Animal (Feb 2016)
Nonhuman Island: Plant (March 2016)
Nonhuman Island: Vibration (April 2016)
Nonhuman Island: Earth (May 2016)
Nonhuman Island: Discussion (June 2016)
Nonhuman Island: Fall (September 2016)
Nonhuman Island: Time (October 2016)

Project Website

Concept and coordination: Saara Hannula
Working group: Anniina Ala-Ruona, Saara Hannula, Luka, Minja Mertanen, Linda Priha, Kati Raatikainen, and other (non)human beings
Production: Reality Research Center, 2016-2017